Photo credit: Jiyang Chen Photography
Prelude and Fugue op. 87 no. 4 in E Minor (1950)
Sonata for Piano (1924)
I.♩ = 112
III.♩ = 112
Mazurkas op. 50 (1924-26)
I. Sostenuto – Molto rubato
II. Allegramente – Poco vivace
IV. Allegramente, risoluto
Piano Sonata ‘1. X. 1905, From the street’ (1905)
I. Předtucha (Presentiment)
II. Smrt (Death)
IGNACY JAN PADEREWSKI
Piano Sonata op. 21 in E-flat Minor (1903)
I. Allegro con fuoco
II. Andante ma non troppo
III. Allegro vivace
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
Pianist Igor Lipinski unifies two of his passions, classical music and sleight-of-hand magic, in a recital program called “Piano Illusions”. Lipinski plays a sophisticated piano repertoire, from Chopin to Stravinsky, and in between the music, he performs his “Piano Illusions,” creative magic tricks based on the musical selections on the program.
In one of his signature effects developed with Teller of Las Vegas duo Penn & Teller, Lipinski starts by playing a three-part Fugue from Bach’s Toccata in E Minor. Following the performance, he invites a spectator on stage, memorizes a shuffled deck of fifty-two cards, and recites the order of the deck while playing the Bach’s Fugue at the piano.
Teller calls him an original: “He thrills you on the piano. He mystifies you with magical illusions. And he keeps you laughing with his impudent, charismatic charm.”
BACKGROUND OF THE PROJECT
Lipinski inherited a book on card magic from his great-grandfather when he was six years old. Soon after, he became the youngest member of the Society of Polish Magicians, and by his sixteenth birthday, he performed magic at festivals in Poland, Czech Republic, France, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Lipinski started his first piano lessons at six. At twelve, he won the Grand Prix and the First Prize at the Paderewski Competition for Young Pianists in Kasna Dolna, Poland. At eighteen, he was accepted to study piano performance at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.
In addition to majoring in piano performance, Lipinski was accepted to a selective honors program called Musical Arts Major. While working towards his honors thesis, he studied with a theater director on developing a program of music and magic for his senior project.
Harold Weller, Founder of Las Vegas Philharmonic, took interest in Lipinski’s project and shared a video recording of his performance with Teller of Penn & Teller. After an inspiring collaboration with Teller in Las Vegas, Lipinski won the 2011 WQXR Classical Comedy Contest at Caroline’s on Broadway, a national competition adjudicated by a panel of distinguished classical music judges including Metropolitan Opera’s Deborah Voigt and P.D.Q. Bach’s Peter Schickele.
Upon the success of the competition, Lipinski presented “Piano Illusions” at renowned concert series, festivals, universities, symphony orchestras, and as encores during his classical recitals. In recent years, he performed the program for Musica del Cuore Concert Series in Hong Kong, Gina Bachauer Piano Foundation in Salt Lake City, UT, Dakota Sky International Piano Festival in Sioux Falls, SD, Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles, CA, Music on Mondays Concert Series in New York, NY, University of South Florida Steinway Concert Series in Tampa, FL, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra in Rochester, NY, Lakes Area Music Festival Orchestra in Brainerd, MN, and Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra in Hyannis, MA.
After graduating with his BM & MM degrees from the Eastman School of Music, Lipinski earned his DMA in Piano Performance at Northwestern University where he researched the history of recital programming in his doctoral dissertation: “From Liszt to Victor Borge: A Legacy of Unique Piano Performances.” After completing his first faculty appointment at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2016-17, he joined the piano faculty at the University of Oklahoma as the Assistant Professor of Piano in Fall 2017.
Mary Kunz Goldman, Buffalo News
“As a pianist on the cusp of his career, Igor Lipinski holds a special card in his hands. His performances are magical. Literally.”
Teller of Penn & Teller, Rio Hotel & Casino Las Vegas
“Igor is an original. He thrills you on the piano. He mystifies you with magical illusions. And he keeps you laughing with his impudent, charismatic charm.”
Harold Weller, Conductor and Founder, Las Vegas Philharmonic
“Igor’s unique combination of music and magic will thrill and excite you and leave you wanting more!”
Tony Caramia, Professor of Piano, Eastman School of Music
“I want to tell you all just how impressive his show is, in so many ways. His playing, of course, is just so effortless, effective, evocative, sensitive, virtuosic, and technically brilliant. He somehow manages to make GEVA clunker of a grand sound lyrical and lush, with colors that most pianists don’t possess on a decent instrument. It must be part of his magic!
His talk to the audience in between “tricks” and piano pieces flows so effortlessly. The use of language is personal, direct, and captivating; with well-chosen images, as well as directives to the audience to imagine and follow his journey; he creates an event of joy, discovery, and, yes, magic.
And there is the magic itself: creative, mesmerizing, thrilling, and yet never simplistic or intimidating. Needless to say, the tricks generate a “How’d he do that?!” and that’s part of the fun. But what I loved even more was the interaction between music and magic. For all of us at Eastman, music is magical, in spite of our endeavors to study its history, theory, etc. But fundamentally, music is magic in sound and silence, and Igor’s show highlights that definition perfectly.
I hope each and every one of you can experience this unique and personal offering: Igor deserves such an audience, and you deserve to witness this amazing exhibition of talent, creativity and inspiration.”
Igor Lipinski wins the WQXR Classical Comedy Contest at Caroline’s on Broadway
On November 11, 2011 in New York City, Igor Lipinski was announced the winner of the WQXR Classical Comedy Contest at Caroline’s on Broadway. The contest was a partnership between the legendary comedy club and the nation’s most listened-to classical radio station aiming to find the next Victor Borge of classical music. Finalists were chosen from 79 applicants from around the world to perform live in front of the world-class line-up of judges: Metropolitan Opera Star Deborah Voight, HBO Comedian Robert Klein, Peter Schickele of PDQ Bach fame and Charles Hamlen of IMG Artists. The contest was presented as part of the New York Comedy Festival.
Igor Lipinski performs at the Paderewski Summer Concert Hall in Poland
Igor Lipinski performed his “Evening of Music & Magic” at the Paderewski’s Summer Concert Hall of the Paderewski Center in Kasna Dolna, Poland on July 22, 2011. Lipinski’s first appearance in Poland in over 5 years has gathered rave reviews and enthusiastic reception of the audience who packed the hall and asked Lipinski to play three encores.
Igor Lipinski performs music & magic for his senior thesis at the Eastman School of Music
In addition to completing his piano performance degree at the Eastman School of Music, Lipinski was accepted to a selective honors program called Musical Arts Major.
Advised by the MUA faculty committee, Lipinski crafted an interdisciplinary curriculum for his junior and senior year at Eastman. Lipinski’s senior project unified two of his passions, classical music and sleight-of-hand magic, to develop a unique concert program of music and magic. Lipinski took a series of independent studies with a theater director at the University of Rochester, researched performance traditions of the nineteenth-century artists, and premiered an hour long show to the sold-out house.
The performance took place at one of Eastman’s recording studios on Wednesday, April 29, 2009. The MUA committee awarded Lipinski’s senior project the Musical Arts Major with Excellence.
Photo credit: Kate L Photography
The members of the Knoxville Music Teachers Association selected Dr. Igor Lipinski for the 2016-17 KMTA Teacher of the Year award, recognizing Lipinski’s “outstanding contributions to the community and students.” Founded in 1958, the Knoxville Music Teachers Association is a local affiliate of the Tennessee Music Teachers Association (TMTA) and the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA).
Dr. Igor Lipinski joins the piano faculty at The University of Oklahoma as the Assistant Professor of Piano starting Fall 2017. Lipinski will teach a studio of undergraduate and graduate piano majors and will collaborate with the piano faculty on many exciting artistic initiatives.
The University of Oklahoma is a major public research university with the main campus located in the suburban Norman, OK, twenty five minutes outside of Oklahoma City. An institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Music since 1931, the OU School of Music is the most comprehensive music program in Oklahoma.
The OU Piano Department offers several degrees in piano performance and piano pedagogy including B.M., M.M., and D.M.A. The piano faculty at OU is recognized nationally and internationally as a leading center for performance and pedagogy:
This lecture-recital is a comprehensive guide to teaching and performance of Chopin’s Mazurkas, highlighting unique features of this hybrid dance form to inform the authentic application of Chopin’s articulation, phrasing, rhythm, and tempo rubato.
The fifty-seven mazurkas of Frédéric Chopin show a fascinating evolution of the genre, from a charming dance to a sophisticated musical poem. This lecture-recital, illustrated by a dozen of examples at the piano, offers a comprehensive and practical guide to teaching and performance of these masterpieces.
Since the mazurka is a hybrid of three Polish dances, the presentation will address unique characteristics of (1) the mazur, (2) the kujawiak, and (3) the oberek, along with dance movements present in Chopin’s writing, such as the “hołubiec” (heel-clicking leaps on offbeat accents) of the mazur, the “wahadłowy” (pendulum motive) of the kujawiak, and the “młynek” (whirling) of the oberek. Playing excerpts of the original folk song recordings will reveal peculiar effects featured in Chopin’s instrumental transformation of the genre, such as the “przyśpiewka,” a short improvised vocal introduction, an upbeat used for instrumental tuning, and a glissando effect, as well as Chopin’s re-imagination of folk band instruments, shown in “basy i dudy” (bass drones) of the accompanimental ostinato and the tradition of Polish fiddling. Highlighting these elements will address essential performance considerations such as moveable accents of the mazur, agogic accents of the kujawiak, a rapid stepwise motion of the oberek, a distinction of accentuation between the mazurka and the waltz, and a careful application of tempo rubato.
Lastly, the presentation will offer ideas on how this practical knowledge informs the teaching and performance of the mazurkas written by the twentieth-century composers influenced by Chopin, including Alexander Scriabin, Manuel Ponce, and Karol Szymanowski.
ABOUT THE PRESENTER
Igor Lipinski, is an Assistant Professor of Piano at the University of Oklahoma, a frequent orchestra and recital soloist, and a graduate of Northwestern University and the Eastman School of Music.
This interactive lecture-recital examines an element of surprise in Franz Liszt’s Monologues Pianistiques and Victor Borge’s Comedy in Music to explore unconventional recital programming and rediscover a sense of wonder in our own performances.
When Franz Liszt (1811-1886) premiered his Monologues Pianistiques in Rome, he finished every concert with an element of surprise. The pianist would ask the audience to write down the names of popular arias and drop them into a silver urn. By the end of the recital, he read the selections out loud while conversing joyfully with the crowd. Once settled on a particular theme, he included the familiar melody in his closing improvisation.
Following into Liszt’s footsteps, Victor Borge (1909-2000) redefined an element of surprise for Broadway with his record-breaking 849 shows of Comedy in Music in New York City. Borge encouraged musical requests, conversed with the public, and delighted his spectators with a unique touch of music and humor, turning a familiar tune of “Happy Birthday” into a set of piano variations and playing Rossini’s William Tell with the sheet-music upside down.
Liszt and Borge lived in different times and played for different audience yet they both recognized the power and the value of surprise. They believed that surprising the audience is often as important to a successful performance as technical mastery of the instrument. This presentation features a lively recreation of Liszt’s and Borge’s performance styles at the piano and explains a creative process behind programming such an interactive concert experience for today’s audience. By revisiting the legacy of these two engaging artists, we learn to think outside of the box, and bring a sense of wonder to our own performances while attracting new audience to classical music.
ABOUT THE PRESENTER
Igor Lipinski, is an Assistant Professor of Piano at the University of Oklahoma, a frequent orchestra and recital soloist, and a graduate of Northwestern University and the Eastman School of Music.
Listen to Lipinski’s rendition of Chopin’s Nocturne op. 9 no. 2 in E-flat Major featuring the composer’s original ornamentations recorded live at RTHK—Radio and Television Hong Kong. Featured on RTHK’s The Works, a weekly program on music and culture in Hong Kong, January 4, 2017.
Listen to excerpts from Lipinski’s faculty recital at Sandra G. Powell Recital Hall at the University of Tennessee School of Music in Knoxville, TN. On his debut recital at UT, Lipinski performed the music by Chopin, Liszt, Paderewski, Siegler, Janáček, Godowsky, and Grünfeld.
On August 14, 2016, Lipinski joined the New Piano Collective, a diverse group of Eastman School of Music piano alumni, in performance at the Old First Concerts in San Francisco. The concerts were well-received by the local audience and featured a variety of repertoire and performance traditions. The NPC is now working on launching an annual piano festival based in California.
Dr. Igor Lipinski joins the piano faculty at the University of Tennesse, Knoxville as the Lecturer of Piano and Piano Pedagogy starting Fall 2016.
On July 24, 2016, Igor Lipinski joined the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto no. 2 in B-flat Major under the baton of the music director JoAnn Falletta. It was Lipinski’s third appearance with the orchestra, having previously played Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with Matthew Kraemer and Paderewski’s Piano Concerto in A Minor with JoAnn Falletta. The concert took place at Artpark’s Mainstage Theatre in Lewiston, NY.
Dr. Igor Lipinski, Assistant Professor of Piano, joined the piano faculty at the University of Oklahoma in Fall 2017.
Lipinski made his orchestra debut with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on NPR’s Performance Today and performed as a soloist with Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra, Butler County Symphony Orchestra, Woodstock Mozart Festival Orchestra, Lakes Area Music Festival Orchestra, and Paderewski Symphony Orchestra at Chicago’s Symphony Center. He maintains an active concert career in the U.S. with over 100 performances to date, including a live broadcast recital at Chicago’s premiere classical music station 98.7 WFMT and “33 Variations,” an award-winning theater play based on Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations.
Originally from Poland, Lipinski won the Grand Prix and the First Prize at the Paderewski Competition for Young Pianists in Kasna Dolna, Poland. He visited the U.S. at the invitation of Kazimierz Braun, Professor of Theater at the University at Buffalo, to play a role of a pianist in “Paderewski’s Children,” a theater play about the life of Ignacy Jan Paderewski. He graduated from the Paderewski Music High School in Tarnow, Poland where he studied piano with Jaroslaw Iwaneczko.
Lipinski earned his Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and Musical Arts and Master of Music in Piano Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester where he studied piano under the tutelage of Douglas Humpherys. As a teaching assistant of Vincent Lenti and Tony Caramia, he received Eastman’s Teaching Assistant Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Lipinski continued his graduate studies at Northwestern University Bienen School of Music earning his Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance under the tutelage of Alan Chow.
Lipinski’s research interests focus on the history of recital programming featured in his DMA dissertation “From Liszt to Victor Borge: A Legacy of Unique Piano Performances.” Recognized for his own creative programming, Lipinski unified two of his lifetime passions, classical music and sleight-of-hand magic, in a recital program “Piano Illusions.” Originally developed for his honors senior thesis at Eastman, Lipinski collaborated on the program with Teller of Las Vegas duo Penn & Teller, eventually winning the WQXR Classical Comedy Contest at Caroline’s on Broadway. After his success in New York, Lipinski presented “Piano Illusions” at renowned concert series and festivals including Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation in Salt Lake City and Musica del Cuore Concert Series in Hong Kong.
Before joining the piano faculty at OU, Lipinski was a member of the piano faculty at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
On December 10, 2015, Igor Lipinski will perform his fourth and final doctoral degree recital at Northwestern University Bienen School of Music. The program will include Liszt’s Ballade, Schubert’s Song Transcriptions, Chopin’s Waltz Brilliante, Paderewski’s Variations, Concert Paraphrases on Verdi’s Rigoletto and Strauss’s Die Fledermaus, and more. Lipinski will be playing at the exquisite Galvin Recital Hall—part of the newly opened Ryan Center for Musical Arts—on 70 Arts Circle Drive in Evanston, Illinois. The recital is scheduled for Thursday, December 10 at 6pm. The concert is open to the public with free admission.
Igor Lipinski joins the Paderewski Symphony Orchestra as a soloist in performance of Paderewski’s Piano Concerto in A Minor at the Symphony Center’s Orchestra Hall in Chicago. The gala concert celebrates the 155th anniversary of Ignace Jan Paderewski’s birth, honoring the legacy of one of the greatest pianists from the Golden Age of Piano, composer extraordinaire, philanthropist, political leader, diplomat, and the first Prime Minister of Poland. You can preview the music by listening to Lipinski’s NPR broadcast with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra back in 2008.
Paderewski took part in twenty concert tours in the United States. He performed 1500 concerts, 65 of which took place in Chicago. In 1892, he performed in the inaugural season of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Theodore Thomas, and in 1931 he played his own Piano Concerto in A Minor under the baton of Frederick Stock at Northwestern University. At the November concert in Symphony Center, Lipinski will be presenting the concerto on the same stage where Paderewski himself performed on numerous occasions.
The gala concert will also feature excerpts from Paderewski’s Symphony in B Minor, Elgar’s “Polonia” Overture, Chopin’s Grand Polonaise, and a preview of the orchestra’s upcoming opera production of Moniuszko’s The Haunted Manor at the Lyric Opera.
On August 2, 2015, Igor Lipinski performed a highly successful orchestral version of his music & magic show entitled “Symphonic Magic” with the Lakes Area Music Festival Orchestra. According to Brainerd Dispatch, Lipinski’s performance of “Symphonic Magic” brought out the largest audience since the beginning of the festival. The following interview was published by the Lakes Area Music Festival on July 31, 2015. Photo credit: David Boran.
Tell us about your background. Where are you from? How did you get into music? Where and how did you train?
I was born in Tarnow, a small town in southern Poland, sixty miles east of Krakow. I went to a performing arts high school. In my junior year, I won an audition for the role of a pianist in a theater play production at the University at Buffalo. Before the final dress rehearsal, I traveled to Rochester, New York and visited Eastman School of Music for the first time. I fell in love with the school and applied there the following year. I came to Eastman in 2005 and graduated with my BM and MM in Piano Performance in 2011. In 2012, I moved to Evanston, Illinois where I’m currently finishing a DMA in Piano Performance at Northwestern University. I’m writing my doctoral thesis on the performance practice of the most extraordinary pianists of the past: From Liszt to Victor Borge: A Legacy of Unique Piano Performances.
How did you develop your programs? Where did the idea to combine magic and music come from?
As musicians we sometimes forget about the most important aspect of performing in front of people: making a meaningful, lasting connection with the audience, creating a sense of wonder. Classical music is a bridge that connects with people on a very intimate level. Magic shares the same qualities, but differs in one principal aspect. Music is essentially an auditory experience while magic relies on the visual stimuli. I realized that a clever, visual magic can amplify audience’s appreciation of a complex musical work. In addition, magic brings back the much needed level of interaction between the performer and the audience so familiar to the nineteenth-century concert goer, but often forgotten in the twenty-first century concert hall. As a side effect, the new audio-visual collaboration becomes an engaging and memorable concert experience.
I owe interest in magic to my great-grandfather. He wasn’t a professional magician per se, but I vividly remember him entertaining the kids in our family with a few simple magic tricks. When he passed away, I inherited a book on card magic from his drawer. I was just six years old and that’s when it all started. I was essentially self-taught. There were only a few books written on magic in Polish so I had to learn English in order to learn the new techniques and meet other magicians. I traveled to magic conventions and performed at festivals throughout the Europe, from France to Czech Republic. When I was sixteen, I went to Dubai, United Arab Emirates to give sixty shows at the Dubai Summer Surprises Festival.
My heart, however, has always been with music. During my undergraduate years, along with completing my piano performance degree, I enrolled in an honors program with an ambitious senior project: I was finally going to combine my lifetime interest in magic with a piano recital. I worked with a theater director from the University of Rochester, I researched performance techniques of the nineteenth-century artists, conceived the script and premiered “An Evening of Music & Magic” in 2009. I sent the DVD of the performance to my friend Harold Weller, Conductor Laureate of Las Vegas Philharmonic, who in turn forwarded it to Teller of the Las Vegas magicians duo Penn & Teller. Teller, a one-of-a-kind performer and one of the most inspiring minds in magic, invited me to Vegas where we created a piece of magic based on a fugue by J.S. Bach that won the 2011 WQXR Classical Comedy Contest at Caroline’s on Broadway.
What are some recent projects you are particularly proud of? Any upcoming shows you’re looking forward to?
I’m fortunate to be constantly working on new ideas for the show. I love collaborating with orchestras and have worked on wonderful concerts with an immensely creative conductor Jung-Ho Pak and the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra. In the upcoming season, I’m making my concerto debut at the Symphony Hall in Chicago and I’m taking my show to New York City and Hong Kong, among other places. I’m also working on an all-consuming book project based on my doctoral research.
Why music? What do you think makes classical music valuable in today’s world?
Two quotes come to mind. Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman once said that music is more than just an organized sound. Music is a flow of emotions organized in time. Musical work is an emotionally-charged story. By listening, learning and disseminating these stories with each other, music empowers us to connect, understand and strive to be better to one another. One of my mentors I have never met, Leonard Bernstein, said that “the best way to know a thing is to learn it in the context of another discipline.” Discovering the vast wealth of classical music can be a transformative experience to someone from outside of the music world: a medical student looking to become a virtuoso neurosurgeon, or a public school teacher searching for ways to inspire her students in the classroom. Finally, attending a live concert is a rare opportunity to focus, as simple as it sounds, on one activity, forgetting – if for a moment – the fast-paced hours of the day, disconnecting from the digital world and connecting with real people.
On May 29, 2015, Igor Lipinski presented his doctoral lecture-recital at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois entitled: From Liszt to Victor Borge: A Legacy of Unique Piano Performances. The lecture was part of Lipinski’s doctoral thesis which investigates the performance practice behind some of the most remarkable piano recitals of the past. Since completing his doctoral residency in June of 2014, Lipinski works at Northwestern as an Instructor teaching courses in music appreciation and piano literature. Balancing his performance career with an academic lifestyle, Lipinski passed a series of comprehensive examination and achieved his doctoral candidacy status (all but dissertation) on June 5, 2015.
On Sunday, October 19, Igor Lipinski gave a guest-artist recital at the Larson Memorial Concert Hall of the South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD. The recital was part of the Brookings Chamber Music Society Series. Lipinski performed in South Dakota several times in the past including his appearances at the 2010 and 2011 Dakota Sky International Piano Festival at the Belbas Theatre of the Washington Pavillion of Arts & Science in Sioux Falls.
After the sold out concert with the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra on New Year’s Day in 2013, Igor Lipinski once again joined the ensemble under the direction of the brilliant Jung-Ho Pak to perform his unique presentation of piano, symphony orchestra and interactive magic. The concert, also featuring Broadway actress and singer Sarah Uriarte Berry, took place at the elite Oyster Harbors Club in Osterville, Massachusets on September 12, 2014. Lipinski’s performance was enthusiastically received with two standing ovations. To read more about the Cape Cod Symphony’s innovative programming, please visit capesymphony.org
In early August, Igor Lipinski was a soloist with the Woodstock Mozart Festival Orchestra. Lipinski joined the chamber orchestra conducted by Istvan Jaray to perform Mozart’s keyboard masterpiece: Piano Concerto no. 20 in D-minor K. 466. The two performances took place at the legendary Woodstock Opera House – the sight of the great dramatic debut of Orson Welles and Paul Newman.
Igor Lipinski performed his unique concert “An Evening of Music & Magic” at the 2014 Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition. The performance took place at the Black Box Theatre of the Rosa Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Lipinski’s performance was a special one-night only event that was presented the day before the Gina Bachauer’s finals with the Utah Symphony.
Listen to an encore from Igor Lipinski’s doctoral degree recital at Lutkin Hall, Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. The fugue is based on a theme from Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance written by Giovanni Dettori.
The following article written by Jana Hanchett was published on March 13, 2014 at the Oregon Artswatch.
In his Northwest debut on Friday, pianist Igor Lipinski will bring with him a love of Polish composers, of theater and magic — and of surprises. “I don’t reveal the repertoire until the night of the concert,” he says. “I value the element of surprise. I’m always introducing pieces from the stage in fashion of Franz Liszt’s first piano recitals, especially his 1839 Monologues Pianistique in Rome.”
While audience members at Portland’s Polish Hall will be kept guessing what particular pieces by Chopin, Paderewski, Stojowski, Leschetizky, Godowsky, and Friedman he will play next, Lipinski indicates that all of them were composed for a salon-type atmosphere in which people gathered for drinks, conversation, and pleasantries.
“As musicians we sometimes forget about the most important aspect of performing in front of people: making a meaningful, lasting connection with the audience, creating a sense of wonder,” Lipinski explains. “Leonard Bernstein said that the best way to ‘know’ a thing is in the context of another discipline. My piano career, my background in theatre, and my lifetime interest in magic performance are all connected. I’m inspired by the sheer human interaction that the world of theatre provides, hence — I hope — this makes my own performances more accessible and breaks that fourth wall of superficiality so often attached to the piano recital format of recent years.”
The evening would not be complete without some actual Lipinski magic. Along with majoring in piano performance at New York’s Eastman School of Music, Lipinski also enrolled in an innovative, one-of-a-kind honors program that culminated in a senior project: incorporating magic into a classical music concert.
I wanted to tell a story hidden behind a piece of music with a visual aspect of an interactive magic,” he recalls. “It does sound crazy, I agree. Over two years, I participated in a series of independent studies with a theatre director, I researched performance techniques of the 19th century artists, conceived the script for the 75-minute concert and premiered it to the sold-out house. The DVD of the performance was forwarded to Teller (of the brilliant Las Vegas magician duo Penn & Teller) by my friend Hal Weller, conductor emeritus of Las Vegas Philharmonic. Teller was kind enough to call me and invite me to Las Vegas. It turned out that he loves Bach, so we worked together on a routine that involves a Bach fugue, a deck of cards and a random spectator from the audience. It won the 2011 WQXR Classical Comedy Contest at Caroline’s on Broadway. You may even see it on Friday at the Polish Hall.” But you never know; Lipinski likes surprises.
The following article written by Leanne Heaton was published in the Butler Eagle on February 10, 2014.
Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini by Sergei Rachmaninoff as performed by pianist Igor Lipinski was truly the star of the Celestial Fantasy concert of the Butler County Symphony Orchestra on Saturday night at the Butler Intermediate High School.
Rachmaninoff was a brilliant composer and pianist who was notorious for writing extremely difficult piano concerti as exemplified in the 1996 film “Shine,” which suggested that the strain of a performance of the “Rach 3” triggered the mental breakdown of an aspiring Australian pianist. Fortunately, Lipinski suffered no dire consequences from his masterful playing of the 24 variations. The nine-note theme was introduced by the trumpets and accented by the piano at the beginning of the first variation. Each subsequent variation was distinctly different in style and allowed Lipinski to showcase his dazzling versatility. He shifted minute by minute from crisp to lyrical to melancholy to grandiose with aplomb. One moment he played with frantic speed, lapsed into a languid theme, then a brisk march or a sweeping waltz and ended with a grandiose final movement that ended with a sudden sweet, almost humorous, pair of quiet notes. Variation 18 brought sighs of pleasure to the audience as they recognized the romantic theme that was used in the film “Somewhere in Time”.
As an encore, Lipinski offered Chopin’s “Nocturne in C Sharp” which was a favorite of Rachmaninoff. His control and interpretation were exquisite.
Igor Lipinski gave a piano recital featuring compositions by Fryderyk Chopin and Ignacy Jan Paderewski during the National Independence Day celebrations at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago. Lipinski performed at the Consulate on several occasions; among other celebrations, he was a part of the fundraising committee who assisted in renovating the vintage 1911 Steinway Grand Piano.